So I heard that BBFactory had recorded a new live album and were getting ready to release it with a series of album launches…
… and I harassed and harangued Pedro for more info on it, that “Secret Sauce”, as it were, of the album
But first, the BBFactory story so far:
… the band has already released their highly regarded ‘First World Blues’ and ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ albums ( the latter is a live tribute to BB King).
This new album, ‘Live At The Wallaby Hotel’ showcases what BB Factory does best, powerhouse performances delivered with raw passion. In a conversation with Pedro about recording music, he offered this insight which underpins the new offering from the band:
“I think the live recording process is a really under utilised opportunity these days, now that the equipment has gotten a lot more powerful. It’s an opportunity to capture a band in flight, raw and full of energy. With most modern mixing desks, it’s as simple as bringing a laptop to your gig, connect it via USB to the mixing desk, and voila you get a multichannel recording. Our new “Live At The Wallaby Hotel” was as simple as that. Plug in, record 30 simultaneous channels. All up 2.5 hours of music. Then grab what I thought was the best 70min, bring the channels up on the speakers in the studio, mix it. Send it to mastering. Done. No overdubs. 100% live.”
And so, we have an album that takes the listener through a journey of previously unreleased live renditions of selected originals and covers given the BB Factory treatment, recorded 100% live on December 10th, 2020 at the Wallaby Hotel.
Here’s the tasty ingredients making up the “Secret Sauce”.
TRACK-BY-TRACK (with a little Blues history thrown in)
“I gotta ax handle pistol, on a graveyard frame”
Written by: Willie Dixon. Originally recorded by: Muddy Waters (1954).
Pedro says, “We’ve been kicking shows off with our bombastic version of this blues classic for about 5 years now and it never gets tired! Here it comes complete with obligatory mic feedback on the harmonica solo. Duh.”
“I’m Ready” was inspired by a comment by Muddy Waters prior to a gig, when harmonica player Willie Foster visited him at home. As Foster recalled, I knocked on the door, and he was shaving. He said “You here? I told you to come tomorrow.” I said, “Yeah, but I’m here today.” While drinking, Waters ribbed Foster for bringing a suitcase for a weekend. He said,
“I mean you ready!” And I said, “Ready as anybody can be!” He popped his finger and turned to Willie Dixon and said, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s a record, man!” Dixon proceeded to write a song and “I’m Ready” was completed within about three days. In addition to the lyrical theme, “I’m Ready” incorporates a stop-time sixteen-bar structure analogous to “Hoochie Coochie Man”. The song was recorded September 1, 1954, by Waters on vocal and guitar, accompanied by Little Walter on chromatic harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums. Muddy Waters later re-recorded the song for his albums Fathers and Sons (1969) and The London Muddy Waters Sessions (1971). In 1978, he re-recorded it for the title track to his album I’m Ready. The album, which was produced by Johnny Winter, earned Waters a Grammy in 1978
“She can make you lose air, She’s like fire”
Written by: Harold Jackson, Bela Vasvari and Pedro Verhoeven. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Jackson says, “I’ve always had a special affinity for red hair, it’s so fiery. So when Pedro & Bela came up with this spicy latin sounding blues I knew it had to be a song about the auburn lovers in my life!”
Almost more of an instrumental than a “song”, ‘Like Fire’ was written by BB Factory’s Bela Vasvari, Pedro Verhoeven and Harold Jackson (Jackson) in 2016.
The main musical theme played in the intro and outro of the song stands on it’s own and the 32 bar solo section in the middle song is like yet another song within a song incorporating a double time bossa nova section for good measure (and those dancing shoes). It was recorded in 2017 and released in 2018 on the album First World Blues. The recording featured Jacob Scesney (Robben Ford, Seal, Kesha, Black Eyed Peas) on shred-your-face-off alto-sax. This live version features Pedro’s inspired improvised lead guitar.
“I was lower than a canyon, I was all used up”
Written by: Pedro Verhoeven, Harold Jackson. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Mike Freeman (Groove Magazine) says, “This is not pure blues, but thematically it embodies blues mythology to a T. It sure as hell isn’t the Lord’s chords. This is a great, new, fresh sound, soul tinged urban blues.. from the heart.”
This was BB Factory’s first single, recorded and released in 2017, hitting #1 on the Itunes Blues & Roots chart in November that year.
Half an Alice in Wonderland dream and half a wide- awake search for redemption, ‘Save Me’ is one man’s desperate attempt to get his troubled life into order. The dream scares the living daylights out of him. With ‘hell hounds deep down inside’, he pleas for help. His Minister tells him ‘Oh my Son, I can’t save your soul.’
This is a brand-new fast paced interpretation of an eternal tale; someone who does a deal with you know who. The Crossroads legend of Robert Johnson springs to mind. The song is a reflection: ‘Can someone save me from this looking glass?’. Was he saved? You decide for yourself!
“My car got repossessed this morning, Harder times I haven’t seen in years” Written by: Eddie Hazel, Billy Nelson (Funkadelic). Originally recorded by: The Temptations (1975)
Pedro says, “This is one of those super simple single chord vamps that gets everyone on the dance floor, so playing this to a packed room on Dec 10th, 2020 was a little risky to say the least. Let’s just say “chair dancing” has become a thing.”
It was co-written by Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel and bassist Billy “Bass” Nelson who both played on the original Temptations recording of the song. The song is the last by The Temptations group to reach the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart: the song also crossed over to the pop chart, reaching number twenty-six on the Billboard Hot 100.
This live reworking by BB Factory features extended Hammond and guitar solos including a nod to “Voodoo Chile” with some funkin’ wah goodness.
“I’m tired of being your fool”
Written by: Bela Vasvari, Harold Jackson and Pedro Verhoeven. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2016)
Jackson says, “This being the first song we ever wrote together is kinda ironic with a title of ‘It’s Over’ but of course it’s par for the course that a blues band would gel right away on a cheating lovers lament like this.”
A mid tempo blues ballad in 6/8, It’s Over was first demoed in 2016 and eventually released in 2017 as the closing track on First World Blues.
Live, the song has become a popular set closer with it’s epic guitar solo finale that just builds and builds until it erupts. That’s certainly the case here.
“I only wanted to one time to see you laughing”
Written by: Prince. Originally recorded by: Prince And The Revolution (1983, Released 1984)
Pedro: “We started covering Purple Rain back in April 2016 right after the shock news of Prince’s death. This April 21st marks the 5th anniversary of his passing and this live tribute will be the 2nd single off Live At The Wallaby.”
“Purple Rain” is ranked at No. 144 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was the final song Prince performed live, taking place at the end of his final performance in Atlanta on April 14, 2016, one week before he died.
BB Factory put their own sonic stamp on this ballad that fuses Rock, Gospel and R’n’B. Notably the use of Hammond Organ instead of orchestral synthesizers and a vibey harmonic tremolo guitar instead of Prince’s 80’s chorused guitar, make BB Factory’s take on this powerful song rather unique.
It has become such a staple of the band’s live shows that audiences have started to demand the band play their version or else!
This intimate live slow burn rendition gradually blossoms over the course of 8 minutes and 45 seconds with a building emotional delivery culminating in not one but two rousing guitar solos.
“I don’t care darlin’ about your faults, I just want to satisfy your pulse”
Written by: James Brown, Alfred Ellis. Originally recorded by: James Brown (1967)
Pedro says, “We love to get a little funky, and what better way to do it then to combine the Texas shuffle of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Cold Shot with the funk bag of James Brown.”
“Cold Sweat” was a No. 1 R&B hit, and reached number seven on the Pop Singles chart. In 2016 “Cold Sweat” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
It is the first recording in which Brown calls for a drum solo (with the famous exclamation “give the drummer some”) from Clyde Stubblefield, beginning the tradition of rhythmic “breaks” that would become important in dance music and form the foundation of sampling. Sometimes cited as the first true funk song, “Cold Sweat” was recognized as a radical departure from pop music conventions at the time of its release.
BB Factory’s take on the song takes it back to it’s Blues origins (the lyrics were originally from the 1962 James Brown R&B song I Don’t Care), incorporating a Texas shuffle and horn like stabs before a feverish open ended guitar solo on just a one chord vamp releases the captive audience back into it a double chorus ending.
Written by: Pedro Verhoeven, Harold Jackson. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Jackson: “This little song right here is for everybody that’s in the little club. That’s right there’s a club. We got two clubs. We got the BB Factory club, and we got the Howlers club. Now the Howlers club’s a little wild. You gotta be over 21 to join the Howlers club…”
“Howler” is another BB Factory live staple, whether it be on a festival main stage in front of thousands or in an American dive bar in front of just a hundred people, this song is all about crowd participation. Jackson will [when COVID rules allow it] grab a wireless mic and head out into the audience and make sure everyone gets their inner Howler out. For followers of the band the howlin’ starts as soon as they hear the opening riff, but even when presenting this song for the first time to a new audience you can bet your arse that Jackson will have a howling herd in response by the time the song is over. This 8:46 version recorded Live At The Wallaby Hotel captures the covid-approved version thanks to the audience mics that were setup in advance. Like good Scouts we were prepared!
“I told my friends I would marry you, they all laughed and called me a fool” Written by: Harold Jackson, Bela Vasvari and Pedro Verhoeven. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Jackson: “This one’s a true story. When I was a young buck living in North Carolina there was this girl at the local dance, seeing her made me wish I had shaved. When I finally made my move thinking she was leaving and headed towards the door, I got up and slipped on my butt, ‘t sure was one way of getting her attention!”
The first single off Live At The Wallaby Hotel, ‘Fantasy’ hits radio and online streaming services on February 9th (just in time for Valentine’s Day). Musically it’s a tip of the hat to our lineage of influences, think Cold Chisel’s Rising Sun or Goodbye Astrid, back it up to Led Zeppelin’s Rock’n’Roll and keep going back until you are duck-walking to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. It’s all over in 3 minutes and 11 seconds, but the Fantasy will last the ages…
“I tried to sing a song, ‘t was so much less than what you mean to me” Written by: Pedro Verhoeven, Harold Jackson. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Pedro says, “This is a stripped down live version compared to our studio recording which featured a full horn section and what amounts to a Gospel choir on the backing vocals, but I think that somehow it ends up having its own energy in this simplified setting. ”
A bit of a sleeper track off First World Blues, “Sweet Refrain” was finally released as a single in 2019 almost 2 years after the album had dropped. It worked though, reaching #1 on the Amrap Regional Chart in April 2019 thanks to the airplay support by community radio stations Australia wide. Not bad for a song that started life as a gloomy ballad in the late 90’s.
“I can’t stand your cooking and You ain’t good looking, I’m gone”
Written by: Willie Dixon. Originally recorded by: Little Walter (1953)
Pedro: ”This is such a fun song to play live, it’s a blues, but definitely not a straight ahead 12 bar blues, our version is of course quite a departure from the original and other versions, we even made room for harmonies! I call this the ear worm blues song. Too late, too late, too late!”
Willie Dixon wrote over 500 songs during his life and his work has been recorded by some of the best-known blues musicians of his era, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. Later, some of his songs were popularized by rock groups, such as the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Led Zeppelin.
In the early days of BB Factory, the band name “The Dixon Willies” was high on the list until it was discovered to be already taken. Somehow “BB Factory” stuck.
She Just Wants To Dance
“This little girl ain’t crazy, she’s as wild as she is free”
Written by: Kevin Moore. Originally recorded by: Keb’ Mo’ (1994)
Pedro says, “At our post-Covid gigs we’ve been dedicating this song to Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.”
‘She Just Wants To Dance’ is a Keb’ Mo’ song that BB Factory began covering during the middle of 2020 when all gigs were cancelled, dancing was cancelled, but live-streaming took off in a big way.
It’s such an easy swaying groove that made for an interesting counterpoint at the time to our original single release ‘Keep Yo Mama’ – a tongue in cheek blues rocker about social distancing.
The Worst Is Yet To Come
“She took everything I had, and the dog took a shit on the floor”
Written by: Heather Donovan, Kevin Moore and Pete Sallis. Originally recorded by: Keb’ Mo’ (2014)
Jackson: “These lyrics ring so true in my life. I’ll spare you all the details other than to say that it’s got to the point where I’m waiting for the next “mini disaster” to occur and then to laugh out loud when it does. I’m just glad to be alive, man.”
If ever there is a quintessential blues lyrics award, surely “The Worst Is Yet To Come” would make the top of the list. And in true blues fashion, it’s all done with a wink to the camera. A way to feel good when times are bad.
Don’t worry radio presenters, Jackson happily sings “poop” instead of “shit” in this live recording. No need for [EXPLETIVE] warnings here!
Call Me Baby
Written by: Bela Vasvari, Harold Jackson and Pedro Verhoeven. Originally recorded by: BB Factory (2017)
Jackson: “We usually promise to give out our drummer Cvitan’s phone number during this song and then get to the chorus of Call me baby, my number is 12345678! it’s about as tongue in cheek as we get. Anyone who actually has that phone number, we apologise!”
The opening track off the band’s 2017 debut First World Blues, “Call Me Baby” is about as simple a song as one can possibly write. There’s only about 4 lines of lyrics that repeat, the music is a conventional 12 bar blues, and the chorus is “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8” and yet… the sum is greater than the parts and live this song instantly catches on. Good times. Guaranteed.
‘Live At The Wallaby Hotel’ is distributed via Only Blues Music through national retailers JB Hifi and Sanity Records and all good independent record stores.
The CD will be launched on March 25th at (you guessed it…) The Wallaby Hotel, and will be available on all major streaming platforms from April 21st coinciding with the 5th anniversary of the passing of Prince. No surprises then that one of the stand out performances on the album is a rousing 9min long rendition of Purple Rain in tribute to Prince (a radio edit is in the works).
… and …
BBFactory are also the host band at the BASEQ Jam at the Royal Mail Hotel, Goodna on the 28th March, from 1:00pm, free, make sure you’re on time to catch them) …
Band Website: https://linktr.ee/bbfactory
Download the first single “Fantasy”: Fantasy (Live) by BB Factory – DistroKid